Hire Traits for Higher Sales

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As consumer buying habits change, companies look for new ways to generate and increase sales. Sales training is big business, and it makes sense to invest in your sales team. Who generates more business and brings in more revenue than the sales team?


Building a successful sales team begins with recruitment. Do you look for someone with a business degree? Someone with a long list of sales positions? A person who has worked for a prestigious company known for their sales teams?


Who do people like to buy from? People they like. People who make them feel important. People who are truly interested in them and making sure their needs are met. There is no college degree for that. It’s even something that is hard to train. OK, maybe it’s even impossible to train someone to care or be friendly.


A case study by Kenexa on the success of AMC theatres was the subject of a Forbes article, “Think Traits, Not Training:  How AMC Theatres Increased Sales, Profits and Engagement.” The author related his experience with a friendly manager at an AMC theatre. The study revealed interesting observations on the success AMC has on focusing on “fit” and “engagement” to increase sales. 


The first was to identify your critical positions. While sales people are important, they may not be the ones with the highest customer contact. In the case of AMC, ticket sales were not the biggest revenue maker. They make their biggest profits on concession sales. So, for AMC, the concessions workers have the most critical positions. The second idea was to hire engaging, friendly, sales-oriented people to fill those critical jobs. Friendlier concessionaires, more profits. 


The third thing AMC did was increase their applicant pool. If you want to find the right people, you can’t be forced to choose from a small sample. As for AMC, they increased their applicant pool from 250,000 to 1.4 million. Not every company can or would choose to take on that many applicants. But it makes sense to have a larger pool in which to cast a net. A larger applicant pool guards against settling for employees who might not have the right mix of traits that make successful employees and top sales people.


The article sums up the points. It makes sense for any organization to focus on talent. It isn’t always easy to define the requirements for talent, as talent takes on many forms. It can’t be categorized by education level, experience or skills. Talent is better defined as what a person does with their education, experience and skills.


Key positions aren’t defined by organizational level. They can be point-of-sale, as in the case of AMC’s concession sales. The highest profit margin equals a key position. Once you define key positions, work on training and retaining those employees. AMC found that by focusing on the fit and engagement, employee turnover decreased by 43 percent. The added bonus was that employees were great sales people and were more satisfied with their jobs. The key to improving sales may not be a bigger sales department, but by fitting sales-minded individuals into key positions throughout the company. 


That's some food for thought.


Photo Source: Freedigitalphotos.net


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  •  Colleen S
    Colleen S
    Traits are extremely important  I agree fit and engagement are key.
  • Mary Nestor-Harper
    Mary Nestor-Harper
    Thanks for the comments.  Luz, sometimes its better not to have learned bad habits from an old sales job.  You are fresh and able to learn the process without any old habits to break.  Honesty and dedication and professional behavior are all necessary for a sales career.  Thanks!
  • Dana K
    Dana K
    Behaviors are very important to observe and verify. Without proper behavior the activities that are necessary for success will not be employed effectively.
  •  Robert A
    Robert A
    So true, being a likable person helps you with sales, but you need to complete that with at least honesty and dedication, and I can mention some more.
  • Luz F
    Luz F
    Very true. I wish every hiring company could read this. I am currently pursuing a sales position. Although, I have the customer service skills and knowledge about the products, they are concerned because I don't have experience as a salesman.
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